How to get all of the audiobooks for nothing.

French library

I love the library. I might go so far as to call myself a library junkie. Just look at this pinterest board I have been obsessively creating. The library and I have true love.

But there is only one thing I love more than wandering the stacks in the downtown LA library and perusing all of the old card catalogue that they still have- it really is amazing and worth seeing if you come to LA. What I love more is being able to check out a book from wherever I am and read it or listen to it immediately for zero dollars.

I first realized I was way behind on this tech when I logged a bunch of books when visiting a friend in Spain who was living there teaching English. She loves reading as much as I do. I had visions of being the conquering hero bringing her all these books.

She smiled when I presented them to her, waiting for the whoop of joy.

“Um,” she said. “You know I can check out anything I want from the library at home on my Kindle, right?”


So… cut to my terrible commute and the fact that I used to go through about an audio book every week or week and a half. With one Audible credit a month at the time, Seymour was not feeding me enough books. So I did some digging and discovered Overdrive.

People are always asking me how I listen to audiobooks on my phone, so here is my quick tutorial.

  1. Download Overdrive. It is available for iOS iPhone, android, Windows phone, Windows, and Chromebook. You can also use it to put books on your Kindle, but more on that later.
  2. Once you’ve downloaded, add your library. There are over 40 countries worth of libraries so, if you’ve got a library card, it’s pretty likely you can download books. Start at the main menu and follow the steps here: IMG_7190        IMG_7191      IMG_7172
  3. Once you’ve selected your library, you’re ready to add content. At this stage, you will be searching inside your library’s database, so it might look a bit different than my images, which are for the Los Angeles Public Library. After you search and find a book, click “borrow” or “Place a hold” if holds are available at your library. :  IMG_7194     IMG_7193     IMG_7173
  4. Once you’ve clicked on “borrow,” you’ll be able to download the files:                                             IMG_7174
  5. The files begin downloading into the “files” area in Overdrive. Make sure you are connected to the internet. It will take a few minutes for the files to download completely. The longer the book, the longer the download. IMG_7195
  6. Once the files are downloaded, you can simply open Overdrive, click on “Bookshelf” and click the book you’ve checked out to play.                                                                                                                                              IMG_7197
  7. The actual player is a lot like Audible’s, but can be a little glitchy. (Read, sometimes it loses its place and takes you back to the beginning of a section.) To avoid issues, when you pause the book, make sure to add a bookmark so that you can always find your place quickly.                                                                                                          IMG_7198

And that’s it! I know it seems a bit complicated when it’s all broken down like this, but I wanted this to be completely clear. Many people have had trouble getting content onto phones and have asked me how to make it work, so here is a handy reference guide for the ages. Or at least until phones are completely redesigned and nothing works the same way anymore.

I’m hoping this will at least be good for the next six months. Enough time for you to listen to Yes, Please. Which is really excellent, by the way- definitely check it out. Amy Poehler reads it herself along with special guests, so the audio is worth it, much like it was with Bossy Pants.

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Further Exploring

  • lola - Whuuuuuut? Okay, will have to look into this app. Just checked out the website, and my local (Australian) library is on there. Apparently their most popular audiobooks are pulp romances – suburban Sydney, how you fail to surprise me.

    Yes, Please had some pearls of wisdom in there, but seemed to me to ramble a bit, like her editor could have pushed her to really drill down to the point a bit more. Perhaps it was lost in cross-cultural translation…? I like AP, though, and what she’s doing for gender equality and empowering young women.ReplyCancel

    • caroline - Yay! So glad that Overdrive is a new discovery… and delighted to hear you can check out books in Australia. I think the romance thing is quite common- LA’s library is full on them as well.

      I think Yes, Please worked quite well as an audio- felt more like she was having a conversation with me rather than how it might have felt in a physical book. I can see where that might feel like rambling.

      Let me know how you go using Overdrive!ReplyCancel

  • Dal - Book Doctor, this is absolutely fantastic, I didn’t know we could do this so when I have a moment I’ll see if I can connect to my local library…oh the anticipation. I love this because most people have a phone but not everyone can afford audio books etc (even trashy romance, why not eh?!!). This is what it’s all about, sharing good stuff. Good on yer Book Doc!ReplyCancel

    • caroline - Thanks, Dal! I think a library in your area should be available. I know that England is certainly on the list of countries. Do let me know how it goes. This has been a huge help in fulfilling my need for more books without spending all of my money on them. A girl does have to eat after all. So glad this is useful!ReplyCancel

  • Julia - Great post~ Overdrive *is* wonderful. My library membership was dormant for years until I put Overdrive on my iPad. And yes, the romance thing is a global (human?) thing… it’s the same here in Singapore. Btw, if you haven’t written about books that are better listened to than read, maybe you could share your thoughts with us in a post! 🙂

    btw, not sure if you’ve seen the State Library of Victoria (Australia), I loved going there when I was in uni.ReplyCancel

    • caroline - Julia! I am so glad you are an Overdrive lover as well. Agreed on the dormant library membership- I wasn’t able to get to the library because my terrible commute meant I was leaving for work and getting home outside of library hours. But Overdrive let me check out audiobooks to enjoy on the way.

      I love your idea about books that are best as audiobooks versus read. I will put a post together on that topic. Maybe even today… stay tuned!ReplyCancel